"Everything is as it should be."

                                                                                  - Benjamin Purcell Morris

 

 

© all material on this website is written by Michael McCaffrey, is copyrighted, and may not be republished without consent

Toxic Femininity: 'Badass' US Women Demand Right to Torture, Maim and Kill for Empire...Just Like Men

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Estimated reading Time: 3 minutes 56 seconds

Thanks to a new wave of feminism and its call for equality, it isn’t just toxic men who can kill, torture and surveil in the name of American militarism and empire, women can now do it too!

 This past weekend was the third annual Women’s March, which is a protest originally triggered by Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election that encourages women across America to rise up against misogyny and patriarchy.

 As sincere as these women are in their outrage, in their quest for power they are inadvertently reinforcing the immoral and unethical system that they claim to detest. This is most glaringly apparent when this new feminism boldly embraces the worst traits of the patriarchy in the form of militarism and empire.

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 The rise of the #MeToo, Time’s Up and the anti-Trump Women’s Movement has brought forth a new wave of politically and culturally active neo-feminists. This modern women’s movement and its adherents demand that “boys not be boys”, and in fact claim that the statement “boys will be boys” is in and of itself an act of patriarchal privilege and male aggression. The irony is that these neo-feminists don’t want boys to be boys, but they do want girls to be like boys…at least the morally degenerate boys.

The inherent contradiction of that ideology was on full display recently when the American Psychiatric Association (APA) put out a guide to treating men and boys. In the guide’s summary the APA makes this extraordinary claim, “Traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful.”

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 These APA guidelines blatantly turn “traditional masculinity” and “toxic masculinity” into synonyms, and never once mention testosterone, revealing a staggering ignorance of male biology. The APA is in essence blaming the bull for his horns. Further diminishing their credibility, how can anyone look at the mess that is the current emotional state of our world and think we need less stoicism and not more?

 The hypocrisy of the APA guidelines are glaringly evident because everywhere you look nowadays girls and young women are constantly being urged to be more competitive, dominant and aggressive. I guess when women do it, it is empowering, but when men do it, it is dangerous.

 Women, and some men, often tell me that if women were in power, the world would be a better and safer place. But that old trope, which obviously animates the feminist movement of today, is foolishness. I mean have none of these people ever heard of that pernicious beast Margaret Thatcher? And does anyone think that Hillary Clinton’s proposed no-fly zone over Syria or her tough talk about Russia would have led to more peace and less war?

 Another example of the vacuity of this ideology is the group of Democratic women with military and intelligence backgrounds who won seats in Congress in 2018. These women, who have dubbed themselves “The Badasses”, how toxically masculine of them, are being touted as the “antidote to Trump”.

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 No doubt these former military and intelligence “badasses” will be so much less toxic than their male counterparts when they demand the U.S. “get tough” by militarily intervening across the globe to further American interests. This sort of star-spangled belligerence is no less toxic in a pantsuit than a three-piece suit, and will only lead to more victims of America’s “competiveness, dominance and aggression” around the world.

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 Other toxically masculine women in government are also being hailed as great signs of women’s empowerment. Gina Haspel is the first female director of the CIA and women now also hold the three top directorates in that agency. Ms. Haspel proved herself more than capable of being just as deplorable as any man when she was an active participant in the Bush era torture program. No doubt the pussy-hat wearing brigade would cheer her “competitiveness, dominance and aggression” when torturing prisoners…most especially the traditionally masculine ones.

 Hypocritical Hollywood has long been a haven for toxic masculinity, be it in the form of depraved predators like Harvey Weinstein or Woody Allen or counterfeit tough guys like John Wayne. Hollywood has also long been the propaganda wing of the American military machine. It is well established that for decades Hollywood and the Department of Defense have worked hand in hand in creating films that tout muscular American militarism and empire.

 Now Hollywood and the Department of Defense are using the social justice calling card of “diversity and inclusion” to take the next step in indoctrinating young people with the noxious ideology of American exceptionalism and aggression…but this time they are targeting girls and young woman.

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 The latest product of the Hollywood and D.O.D. propaganda machine is the Disney/Marvel movie, Captain Marvel, which comes out this March. The film, which has a budget north of $150 million and stars one of the leading feminist voices in Hollywood, Academy Award winner Brie Larson, tells the story of Carol Danvers, a former Air Force pilot who “turns into one of the galaxy’s mightiest heroes.”

 With Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans set to potentially leave their roles as Iron Man and Captain America respectively, Disney is positioning itself to replace them as the face of the multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe with Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, who is described as a “badass superheroine”…one more flag-waving, baddass lady for the girls to look up to!

 The movie has been described as “the recruiting tool of the Air Force’s dreams”, and will no doubt be a huge boost to female recruitment, much like Tom Cruise and Top Gun boosted male military recruitment in the 1980’s.

 The Department of Defense has been partnered with Marvel since 2008’s Iron Man. The D.O.D. and Air Force demand that any film project with which they assist “portrays the Air Force and military in an accurate way and that it is in the service’s interest to partner on the project.”

 It is good to know that ultra-feminist Brie Larson is cashing in by partnering with the Air Force to make a movie that indoctrinates millions of American kids, specifically girls, with the dream of being able to bomb innocent brown people across the globe from miles up in the sky and look really “badass” while doing it.

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 I’m sure Ms. Larson, a public and outspoken advocate for abuse victims here in America, has meticulously weighed the pros and cons of being a recruitment tool for the U.S. military, who in recent years have aided and abetted, or been directly responsible for, the murder of women and children in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.

 The cacophony of feminist voices in the public square has effectively challenged some minds about some things, but not the right minds about the right things. The mendacious U.S. establishment and its virulent military industrial complex have co-opted this current feminist moment and are using it to further solidify their deadly stranglehold on the American consciousness and Brie Larson is now an accomplice to that crime.

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 Is this what the new wave of feminism is all about, putting lipstick on the pig of American empire and militarism and calling it a victory for equality? If so, I’ll pass on that toxic femininity. I’ll stick with traditional masculinity, you know, the stoic kind, whose adherents, principled men like Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Daniel Ellsberg, Pat Tillman and Edward Snowden, among many others, all did the right thing in the face of enormous opposition, and who didn’t tout themselves as “badass”, didn’t start fights but finished them, didn’t torture, didn’t spy and didn’t bomb innocent women and children into oblivion.

 I strongly believe that men and women should be equal in their rights and opportunity, but I also believe that regardless of gender, no one has the right to kill, maim and torture for American empire.

This article was originally published on January 25, 2019 at RT.com.

©2019

Morgan Freeman and the #MeToo Whispers

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Estimated Reading TIme: 3 minutes 11 seconds

"I HEAR A VERY GENTLE SOUND, VERY NEAR YET VERY FAR, VERY SOFT, YEAH, VERY CLEAR" - WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER by THE DOORS

Since October of last year when the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal hit the mainstream, the #MeToo movement has been dominating headlines as a cavalcade of famous men faced allegations of having sexually harassed or assaulted numerous people. Besides Weinstein, there was Bret Ratner, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, James Toback, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Piven, Jeffrey Tambor, Al Franken, John Conyers and Roy Moore to name just a few. 

The #MeToo headlines have abated quite a bit in recent months, but while keeping my ear to the ground out here in Hollywood I have heard the whispers that there is a new target who is being lined up in the #MeToo crosshairs by some major news outlets. 

Ironically, Morgan Freeman was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award at this years #MeToo themed SAG awards.

Ironically, Morgan Freeman was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award at this years #MeToo themed SAG awards.

According to my sources, the man who may be next up to the guillotine is none other than beloved Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman. I am not saying that Morgan Freeman has done anything wrong or is a sexual aggressor or anything of the sort, I have seen no proof of that and have only heard rumor and innuendo. What I am saying is that there are journalists actively investigating Morgan Freeman and claims of sexually inappropriate behavior on his part with co-workers and underlings. 

To be clear, I am not Woodward and Bernstein, nor am I Cindy Adams, I am just a guy who writes opinion pieces in a fruitless search for truth. That said, the rumblings out here in La La Land are loud enough that I was able to pick up on them, which means that something is afoot. 

While the media sharks are definitely in the water, that does not mean they will be able to conclusively verify any claims against Morgan Freeman. I have also heard that many women are hesitant to come forward for a variety of reasons, some of which include Freeman's respected standing in the industry, his "good guy" persona, and interestingly, his race. If the story about Freeman does indeed break, he would be the highest profile African-American man to have been named in the recent wave of #MeToo allegations, and would join Bill Cosby in infamy, which for some, complicates the situation.  

"I HEAR A VERY GENTLE SOUND, WITH YOUR EAR DOWN TO THE GROUND" - WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER by THE DOORS

I have been contemplating writing about this topic for the last week, then synchronistically, today I woke up to an unrelated yet strange story about claims of an inappropriate sexual relationship in the past between Morgan Freeman and his step-grand daughter E'Dina Hines (by his first wife Jeannette Bradshaw).

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Ms. Hines was murdered in 2015 at the age of 33, allegedly by her boyfriend Lamar Davenport. Mr. Davenport's attorneys in his current murder trial have released a series of cryptic texts between Hines and Davenport that they say hint at a sexual relationship between Morgan Freeman and Ms. Hines that Davenport claims existed. When, where and Ms. Hines age when the relationship allegedly occurred are not revealed in the story. Freeman vehemently denies all allegations of a sexual relationship with Hines.

The Freeman-Hines relationship made news back in 2012 when some tabloids reported that Freeman was actually going to marry his then 27 year old step-granddaughter, with whom, they claimed, he had been in a relationship for a decade…meaning it began when she was 17 and he was 64.

I do wonder if this story of an alleged sexual relationship between Freeman and his step-granddaugther E'Dina Hines being back in the news will be the impetus for more women in Hollywood to come forward with claims Morgan Freeman harassed them, or will compel those already in contact with journalists to be more forth coming. 

Though I greatly admire Morgan Freeman as an actor and like him as a public entity, I do not know him nor have I ever met him. Hopefully I am misinformed about reporters digging into Freeman's sexual history in the workplace and the stories I've heard of his behavior are wildly overblown or entirely inaccurate, who knows? But from all I have been able to piece together so far, I have a sinking feeling that the whispers i am hearing combined with this bizarre step-granddaughter story I read this morning, are the tip of a very large iceberg, and Morgan Freeman's reputation/career is the Titanic heading straight for it. 

©2018

#MeToo: It's Not Broke, but You Can See the Cracks

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Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes 48 seconds 

In the U2 song "All Because of You" off of their 2004 album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" there is a lyric that goes, "I'm not broke, but you can see the cracks". That lyric kept popping into my head over the last few weeks as I followed the cavalcade of developments with the #MeToo movement. 

As my long time readers know, I have written extensively on the subject of #MeToo since the Weinstein story broke in early October ( linklink, linklink, link, link, link ). Early on in the story, I wrote what I considered to be a warning to the #MeToo adherents that their movement was destined to self-destruct because it was built on the sand of emotion and not a sturdy foundation of reason. Sadly, for my efforts I was routinely called lots of charming names like misogynist and rape apologist by readers who disagreed with my diagnosis. The following months though have proven my insights to be correct. If you have read my article, "Phases of a Sex Panic", you would be able to recognize that we are now deep into Phase Three of this current sex panic, with all the warning signs of #MeToo's decline due to decadence coming to fruition which will no doubt be followed by a backlash.

THE HIT ON AZIZ ANSARI

There have been a plethora of big #MeToo stories recently and they back up my predictions and hypothesis of #MeToo and its future. One big story was the Babe.com article which claimed comedian Aziz Ansari had "sexually assaulted" a young woman, Grace, with whom he went on a date. The reaction to the Babe article highlighted a gigantic rift in the #MeToo movement between generations. Younger women saw the Babe story as a tale of sexual assault while older generations saw it as "revenge porn" for a bad date. Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic wrote two Ansari articles (link, link) that were insightful and eloquent. Her takedown of the Ansari story is mandatory reading. Bari Weiss of The New York Times also wrote an Op-ed taking the Babe article and the claims that Ansari sexually assaulted his date to task. 

Flanagan and Weiss join Daphne Merkin (New York Times) and Meghan Daum (LA Times) as women who have written worthwhile pieces that challenge #MeToo and spotlight its very apparent shortcomings. Not to break my arm patting myself on the back (or to quote Bono from the song above, "I like the sound of my own voice, I didn't give anyone else a choice") but, I wrote pieces with remarkably similar themes regarding #MeToo months before these women ever considered writing their articles. I am glad my once lonely voice in the wilderness clamoring for reason and rationalism has now become a mini-chorus that includes other thoughtful writers, particularly females ones, because the topic of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment is too important to be left to the emotionalist and reactionary warlock hunters of #MeToo.

VIVE LA FRANCE

Recently, actress Catherine Deneuve and a group of French women wrote an open letter challenging #MeToo, and were joined by French film star Brigitte Bardot, who called the movement "ridiculous and hypocritical". In addition, French actress Juliette Binoche said something in a recent speech that I thought was incredibly important but received scant attention. Ms. Binoche said in relation to #MeToo that she WANTED to hear men's thoughts. This is in stark contrast to Minnie Driver and Alyssa Milano and the rest of the #MeToo mob that has consistently shouted men like Matt Damon down when they voiced their opinion on the subject.

The argument made by #MeToo and many neo-feminists is that men have no right to talk about the subject, whereas Ms. Binoche's argument is that men are as deeply involved in this issue as women, and so their perspective is equally valuable. The reason #MeToo wants to keep men quiet is because men might not say what they want to hear…like when Liam Neeson echoed my thoughts and called the movement a bit of a "witch hunt". I appreciate Ms. Binoche speaking up and out because I am constantly told by hectoring readers, or now former readers, that I should keep my mouth shut on #MeToo issues (and all issues really) because I am a straight, White, male. I have always found this line of attack to be so transparently infantile and foolish as to be absurd, but it seems to be the favorite fall back position for people who are entirely incapable of formulating and articulating a coherent logical argument. 

JAMES FRANCO IN THE CROSS HAIRS

Another big story were the charges of sexual misconduct against actor James Franco by his former girlfriend and some of his acting students. The charges against Franco and Aziz Ansari are so typical of Phase Three of a Sex Panic that it is remarkable. One of the claims against Franco was that while he was in a romantic relationship with a woman, Violet Paley, he allegedly took out his penis while they sat in a parked car together and motioned for her to perform fellatio upon him. The woman claimed she didn't want to do it but did because she "didn't want Franco to hate her". 

The Ansari situation was a date where the two people got naked, performed sex acts on each other and then Ansari kept asking for intercourse and the woman declined and so the date ended. Later, both Franco's companion Ms. Paley and Ansari's date Grace, claimed they were "sexually assaulted". It is objectively obvious that what happened to these woman may have been uncomfortable for them, but it was not sexual assault. In hindsight, these women regretted what they did and they used the #MeToo movement to turn their regret into revenge upon the famous men they felt treated them poorly.  

What the Franco and Ansari cases highlight is one of the things that disturbs me and the previously mentioned female writers Flanagan, Weiss, Merkin and Daum, and that is the embrace of victimhood and the reinforcing of a learned helplessness on the part of the women involved. As Caitlin Flanagan writes in her piece about Ansari's date Grace who was uncomfortable but didn't leave the situation, "have we forgotten how to call a cab?"

The dangerous dynamic being set up by #MeToo is that women are delicate, fragile flowers who have no agency and who need special protection. To me that is the exact opposite of what is required to change the predatory paradigm under which the sexual harassment and misconduct that #MeToo has so nobly highlighted once prospered. 

If women, like Grace and Ms. Paley, make bad decisions they must take responsibility for them, not use #MeToo to turn their regret into revenge because all that does is muddy the waters revolving around the issue of rape and sexual assault. For Ansari's date Grace to claim what happened that night was sexual assault is so outrageous as to be obscene, and is extremely disrespectful to women (and men) who truly have been sexually assaulted.  

STAR FUCKER

Both Ansari's date Grace and James Franco's former companion Ms. Paley strike me as women who fall into a particular category of person that is all too common in the entertainment industry. The Rolling Stones aptly named these type of people as "star fuckers" (see video below). I fully acknowledge that is an unkind term, but that doesn't make it any less descriptively accurate. In the cases of Ms. Paley and Grace, these women were interested in these men because of their fame and wanted to use that fame to their social advantage. When that didn't happen, their infatuation turned into affliction and they sought their pound of public flesh. 

THE SIREN'S CALL OF VICTIMHOOD

The Ansari/Grace story has highlighted the notion that the Siren's call of victimhood seems to intoxicate younger women much more than it does older ones, probably because older ones fought so hard to not be victims, while younger ones have grown up with victim status being exalted.

I have written previously about how tempting it is to turn any sexual interaction into a claim of sexual assault or misconduct when the payoff for that is unchallenged acceptance and identification with the archetypal energy of the victim. This approach may be emotionally satisfying in the short term for the individual, but is a death knell for the #MeToo movement in the long term. 

Women won't become safer from predatory men, or be more empowered with the #MeToo embrace of victimhood, but will only empower predators more. And by stifling male voices, and taking away female agency, women are inadvertently generating a dynamic that ultimately will increase the chances of harassment and assault happening, not reduce them.

Women do not need to be protected because they are emotionally slight and psychologically weak, they need to be empowered by acknowledging and celebrating their innate mental, physical, spiritual and emotional toughness and resilience. Women need to be taught from as early an age as possible that it is ok to be hated, that way when they grow up, they won't feel "coerced" into blowing a guy when they don't want to in order to avoid being "hated". Women also need to learn that their self-worth should not be determined by the fame of the man with whom they sleep. They also need to learn that their bodies are theirs to do with as they please and that they are responsible for the choices they make and the consequences that come with them. All of these things are things that women in the #MeToo movement and modern feminists would say they want for women as well, but their actions thus far do not support this long term outcome, in fact, they guarantee the exact opposite. 

LITTLE BILL MAHER MAKES A POINT!!

This past Friday I forced myself to watch Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO. Maher is a vapid thinker and an insipid comedian, but I feel it is my duty to watch him so you don't have to. This week, something remarkable happened…I actually agreed with Little Bill Maher. I know, I know, I am just as shocked and horrified as you are. After having spent the last few years referring to him as "Little Bill" and claiming he enjoyed performing fellatio on members of the intelligence community establishment, here I was nodding in agreement with what that silly-putty faced douche bag was saying. I was so startled by this turn of events I sat for hours pondering if my thinking was wrong because Maher thought I was right. 

I agreed with Maher because in his "New Rules" segment to close the show, he did a lengthy bit on the #MeToo movement. Maher went through his argument and basically made the case that while he believes sexual misconduct is abhorrent and should be stopped, the #MeToo movement is damaging to that cause because it is emotionalist and anti-reason.

Upon further review I realized that the reason I liked Maher's bit and agreed with it so much is because I wrote the same exact thing many times over. In fact, it seems very clear to me that either Maher, or more likely, someone on his writing staff, had read my RT piece on the subject that coincidentally came out during his show's recent hiatus. The reason I conclude this? Because Maher uses the same argument, structure and the examples in his New Rules segment as I did in my RT piece and its recent update. Read my piece and then watch the segment below to see what I am talking about.

Look, I am glad people are finally coming around and listening to me, but if Bill Maher wanted to be ahead of the curve for once, he could simply throw me a couple bucks and I'd happily consult for his stupid show. Ok…to be honest it would take considerably more than a "couple bucks", and even then I wouldn't do it "happily", but I would do it….maybe…but I'd still call him Little Bill.

In conclusion, things are happening fast and furious with #MeToo. Stories break on the subject everyday, from Woody Allen to Michael Douglas to David Copperfield, there is always a new charge and a new headline. We are knee deep in Phase Three of this current sex panic and the cracks in the veneer of the movement are showing and growing. The Aziz Ansari story is NOT the "have you no shame" - McCarthyism stopping moment, but it is an important moment none the less because it reveals the deep foundational rifts within the #MeToo movement. Phase four and the inevitable backlash is a ways off, but it is definitely coming, especially with #MeToo adherents choosing reactionary emotionalism over nuance and self reflection. These are strange times, and they will no doubt only get stranger.

 

©2017

Some Brief Thoughts on the Golden Globes

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes 28 seconds

It is difficult to imagine a less relevant awards show than the Golden Globes, which unveiled their 2018 edition last night. The Golden Globes are so ridiculous they make the Emmys look like the Nobel Prize for Physics. 

Golden Globe awards are notorious for being routinely purchased (most infamously - Pia Zadora) and are like Chinese food, twenty minutes after digesting the Golden Globes show, no one actually cares or remembers who won. For years the Golden Globes award show has been little more than "Hollywood's biggest party" and the unwashed rubes who weren't invited get to watch the festivities on their television sets.

Last night's show has garnered a lot of attention because it was all about #MeToo and the accompanying self-aggrandizing emotionalist nonsense that surrounds it (like the shaming of Blanca Blanco for not wearing black, which is a wonderfully totalitarian thing to do!!). I once had a conversation with a friend, a Jungian psychologist, who talked about how with narcissists even their pain must be perceived to be exponentially greater than everyone else's, and so it is with Hollywood and #MeToo.

Contrary to popular opinion, the reason that #MeToo is happening right now is not because sexual abuse and harassment were shockingly revealed to have happened in Hollywood, everyone in Hollywood, myself included, knew to some extent it was happening well before the Weinstein "revelations". No, the real reason #MeToo is happening is because people outside of Hollywood have been made aware of the rampant abuse and harassment that routinely goes on here and Hollywood is embarrassed by that…the women of Hollywood most of all. The jet fuel of #MeToo is not the claimed outrage of Hollywood's women, but the shame felt by women who accepted abuse and harassment as business as usual, or who made deals with the devil in order to advance their career or who failed to stand up for themselves or their compatriots when they had the chance. No doubt I will be publicly slammed for "victim shaming" for stating this obviousness, but trust me when I tell you…this is EXACTLY what is being said behind closed doors and in private conversations here in Hollywood. 

NATALIE PORTMAN

Last night wasn't just all about the women, it was also about diminishing the work of men. Natalie Portman has gotten a ton of praise for her actions last night when she was introducing the Best Director category. As Portman announced the nominees she snidely said "here are the five, all male nominees". After she said it the camera cut to eventual winner Guillermo del Toro with an anguished and hurt look upon his face. Portman's holier than thou, condescending girl-speak was an empty and frankly, incredibly rude and graceless gesture. How would Ms. Portman feel if someone took a shit on an award she was about to win? Probably not so great. 

Think of it this way...How would Ms. Portman react if someone said, "here are the all-Jewish nominees" at some category of the Oscars? She probably wouldn't appreciate it very much considering her pride in her Jewish heritage….and she'd be right. So why is it okay to single out men who have been nominated but not any other group, no matter how disproportionate you perceive their nominations to be? 

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The question that should be posed to Ms. Portman is two-fold…first...what women should have been nominated? I have heard people say Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. My retort to that is that Lady Bird is an acquired taste, one which I have not acquired, but to claim that Gerwig's direction is noteworthy reveals a truly staggering ignorance of the art of filmmaking. Some have said Dee Rees, the director of Mudbound, should have been nominated. I have not seen Mudbound, which is indicative of the logistical problem with the film and maybe why she was not nominated. Mudbound is a Netflix film and is streaming on the service. Hollywood still has not figured out what to do with Netflix films and whether to take them seriously as cinema or not. Mudbound may very well be great, but so was Beasts of No Nation, a superb Netflix film directed by Cary Fukinaja a few years ago, and he wasn't nominated either. I have heard some people say that Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) or Kathryn Bigelow (Detroit) should have been nominated. Anyone who says this is a thoroughly ignorant and unserious person. Wonder Woman was a decent movie, but it wasn't even the best superhero film this year and it certainly isn't awards worthy. Detroit is, thanks to Bigelow's abysmal and amateurish direction, not only an awful film but one of the worst films I have seen in decades. 

The second part of the question Ms. Portman should answer is this…who among the nominees for Best Director should not have been nominated? Should Del Toro be snubbed in favor of a female director? Martin McDonagh? How about Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott or Steven Spielberg? If Ms. Portman has an opinion…she should "grow a pair of balls" and say who should and should not be nominated instead of acting like a petulant little girl holding her breath and stomping her foot until she gets what she thinks she deserves. 

I'll put my money where my mouth is, or in keeping with the previous metaphor, I'll "whip my gigantic balls out" and tell you who should be nominated….Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread and Matt Reeves for War for the Planet of the Apes. Who shouldn't be nominated…Martin McDonagh and Steven Spielberg. Your move, Ms. Portman.

GARY OLDMAN

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Gary Oldman won Best Actor for his work as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour and gave what I thought to be the best, most composed and intelligent speech of the night. Sadly, I have seen articles pop up today proclaiming Oldman of being "this year's Casey Affleck". If you remember Casey Affleck won the Oscar last year and there was a bit of an uproar because he had been alleged to have harassed two women working on a film with him years before. Affleck and the women settled the lawsuit. 

Oldman was alleged to have struck his wife during a domestic dispute a few years back and people are saying he shouldn't have been awarded because of it. The fact that the incident was investigated and deemed to be either untrue or inaccurate carries no weight with the #MeToo mob who are incapable of grasping nuance in any shape or form. It will be interesting to see if this supposed skeleton in Oldman's closet is used to keep him from winning a much deserved Oscar. 

It would be really amazing if artistic awards could actually just be given on nothing but merit as opposed to having the right victim identity or being given the seal of approval of mindless mobs like #MeToo or #OscarsSoWhite.

OPRAH!!

The biggest news of the night came from Oprah who gave a rousing, campaign-esque speech that has all of Hollywood buzzing with the thought of her running for president in 2020. Oprah is enough like Trump for her electoral victory to be a distinct possibility if not likelihood, and just different enough from Trump to be embraced by all liberals and even independents. 

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Oprah and Trump are both billionaires, both were "tv stars" and both have no experience in politics. Unlike the silver spooned Trump, Oprah is a self made woman who built her considerable empire from less than nothing. Also unlike Trump, Oprah is a likable, intelligent and inquisitive person that is adored by the mainstream media. Oprah's status as a new age female Pope, her enormous entrepreneurial success and her ease and prowess at oratory and television would make her a formidable opponent for anyone, but especially for Trump, and especially after he has had four years to show what a charlatan he truly is. 

All of that said, I think the fact that there are large swaths of America who either love Trump or who would love Oprah to run against him, is a sign that this country is in a deep state of corrosive ignorance, malignant decadence and imperial rot that is indicative of a nation perilously close to collapse, self-immolation or both. 

Oprah certainly has the potential to be a tremendous president, but none of that will matter as her election in the shadow of Trump's presidency would only reveal an empire hurtling towards its own self-destruction. Oprah is amazing, just ask her or her sycophants and they'll tell you she can do anything, but I guarantee what she won't be able to do is to save us from ourselves. 

THE FEVER BREAKING?

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One final pseudo-Golden Globes related note and that is that this morning there was an op-ed in the LA Times from Meghan Daum titled "Had Enough of the Visceral Response to the Trump Era? Try a Little Nuance Instead." Ms. Daum's piece is well worth reading. I probably enjoyed it so much  because I have been writing the same ideas for well over a year, since before Trump even won the election. 

Ms. Daum's piece, in combination with Daphne Merkin's New York Times article the other day, are hopefully indicative of a fever breaking. I was not infected by the emotionalist fever and so was able to keep my head about me while those around me lost theirs. To Ms. Daum and Ms. Merkin I say, welcome to the party…better late than never.

©2017

Echoes of Totalitarianism in #MeToo and Russia-Gate

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THE RISE OF AMERICAN TOTALITARIANISM

 Is America a totalitarian nation, a nation filled with totalitarians, or both?

As I made the rounds at the plethora of holiday parties in liberal Hollywood, the consensus here was that people are angry and frightened over Trump’s election and presidency. In response, they have found two outlets to take their fear and loathing to extremes, the #MeToo movement and the Trump-Russia story.

It is ironic these stories share the spotlight in our current cultural zeitgeist because while Russia-Gate was born out of a paper-thin intelligence report that was almost entirely devoid of relevant facts, the #MeToo movement was born out of overwhelming evidence and testimonials of Harvey Weinstein’s truly despicable and not-so-secret abusive behavior over the last thirty years.

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Another irony is that the Russia story is fueled by those in the media that believe that Russia and the Russian people are all totalitarian Soviets at heart, while some in the #MeToo movement have, at times, behaved like Soviet totalitarians. While the particulars are very different, the totalitarian impulse at the heart of both of these stories is eerily reminiscent of the dark period of McCarthyism and Hollywood’s blacklist.

In the Russia-gate story the totalitarian inclination revealed itself when the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigating allegations of collusion between Trump and Russia declared that the scope of their probe would be so broad as to encompass anyone a subject “knows or has reason to believe is of Russian nationality or descent”.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein also demanded that Facebook hand over all information on “Russia-connected accounts” which she defines as “a person or entity that may be connected in some way to Russia, including by user language setting, user currency and or other payment method.”

This means that the 3 million Americans of Russian-descent are now suspect, and if you fraternize with them you are suspect too. This sort of terrifying xenophobic propaganda, political repression, restriction of speech and mass surveillance would make Stalin proud and is a strong indicator of a totalitarian trend.

The #MeToo awakening has brought much needed attention to the scourge of rape, sexual assault and harassment by people in power, but it too has a shadow that resembles the spirit of totalitarianism.

Dana Goodyear’s article in The New Yorker titled, “Can Hollywood Change Its Ways” highlighted some of the examples of the totalitarianism at the heart of #MeToo. In the piece, she describes accused individuals being disappeared from public memory.

Photographs of the accused have come down from walls, names are being scrubbed from donated buildings, performances have been reshot with replacement actors, online libraries pulled, movies shelved.”

She then quotes a sexual harassment investigator who tells her “An association with the accused is totally toxic now, with this wave upon wave upon wave, and Soviet-style erasure.”

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An example of this Soviet-style erasure is Garrison Keillor. Keillor, the longtime host of NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, had a co-worker claim that his hand momentarily lingered too long on her bare back during a hug. As a result, NPR not only cut all ties with Keillor and his production company, but the words “Prairie Home Companion” have been excised from NPR and they have vowed never to re-broadcast any of his old episodes. In the tradition of totalitarianism NPR has succeeded in creating a world where not only does Garrison Keillor not exist, but he NEVER existed.

Goodyear also writes in her article of an unnamed male movie industry executive,

Now he worries that having a young female assistant will invite speculation, and speculation begets reporters’ calls. The very idea provokes hysteria. ‘Men (in Hollywood) are living as Jews in Germany,’ he said.”

Obvious hyperbole aside (millions of innocents are not being slaughtered over #MeToo claims), the terror that would generate comparisons to “Soviet-style erasure” and the Nazi’s Final Solution sounds pretty totalitarian to me.

Another example of #MeToo totalitarianism occurred last month when Matt Damon learned the hard way that trying to speak reason and logic in the face of a powerful emotional tsunami like #MeToo is a fools errand.

Damon commented on the #MeToo moment by saying he thinks the alleged perpetrators of misconduct should not be thrown into “one big bucket” because there is a “spectrum of behavior”.

Damon then said, “You know, there’s a difference between…patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?”. He went on to add, “Both behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”

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#MeToo gatekeepers Alyssa Milano and Minnie Driver quickly chastised Damon for not adhering to the #MeToo movement’s orthodoxy. Across the board the press joined Milano and Driver in shaming Damon for his “mansplaining” and sent a clear message that dissenters from the party line will be publicly punished.

While there has been some great #MeToo reporting from Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker and Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey at the New York Times, in regards to Russia-gate the media has not exactly covered itself in glory.

CNN, The Washington Post, MSNBC, ABC and many other news outlets revealed a totalitarian level of disdain for truth and accuracy when they erroneously reported all sorts of bizarre and untrue stories over the last year including Russia hacking the Vermont power grid, Russia hacking 21 states voting systems and Michael Flynn admitting to Trump’s collusion with Russia to name just a few of the many.

Even the esteemed New York Times fell for the Russia-gate hysteria when they published an op-ed from Louise Mensch, a certifiable loon who claims that Trump is already indicted and is being replaced by Senator Orrin Hatch, Bernie Sanders and Sean Hannity are Russian agents and that Steve Bannon is facing the death penalty for treason.

In contrast, quality reporters like Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept and Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone, who maintain a healthy skepticism of the as-yet evidence free Russia-gate claims, are marginalized and exiled from the bright lights of the big-time mainstream news media.

The United States is supposed to be a constitutional democratic republic that is governed by the rule of law. Sadly, #MeToo and the Russia story thus far have proven themselves to be more governed by the angry mob, with the rule of law being replaced with trial by media or in corporate kangaroo courts.

There are terrible people out there who have raped, assaulted and harassed both women and men, of this there is no doubt, but in the great tradition of American constitutional democracy, even heinous individuals, like Harvey Weinstein, Bret Ratner, Kevin Spacey and Russell Simmons, deserve due process, including the right to confront their accusers and to present evidence in their defense.

It is an unhealthy sign for our constitutional democratic republic that of the 110 men who have recently been accused of either rape, assault or harassment, none of them, not a single one, has been able to have a neutral arbiter, like a judge and jury, review the allegations and render judgment. In fact, in only 9 of those cases have police reports even been filed. Furthermore, only 14 of the 110 people accused have admitted guilt and yet 72 have lost their jobs.

In a constitutional democratic republic these people should be able to defend themselves, but in a totalitarian state, with a trial by media and innuendo, there can be no defense. America has devolved to the point where all one has to do is point the finger and scream “J’accuse” and someone’s life and career can be destroyed.

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The same is true of Russian election meddling/collusion. It is certainly possible that Russia “hacked” the U.S. election, but demanding verifiable evidence of this is not a treasonous act, it is a patriotic one. In totalitarian states the assertions of the military and intelligence community are taken on faith, but in an alleged constitutional democratic republic, assertions are not facts and evidence trumps faith.

And if Russian election “hacking” and Trump campaign collusion eventually turn out to be true, it is vital to remember that does not mean that Russians or Americans of Russian descent are somehow inherently untrustworthy or insidious.

 

#MeToo and Russia-gate both fail to live up to the standards of a vibrant constitutional democratic republic when they embrace the path of totalitarianism by conflating accusations with proven fact, embrace emotion over reason, tout guilt by association, encourage disappearing people and erasing history, and silence dissent.

The United States thinks of itself as the shining city on the hill that is a beacon for freedom and democracy, but it is fast becoming a totalitarian nation because it is a nation populated by individual totalitarians that worship power and devalue truth. We Americans have all become little tyrants looking for a balcony, and with the #MeToo and Russia-gate story we have finally found one, where we can vent our fear and loathing but at the expense of our American soul.

A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2018 AT RT.

UPDATE: 

One final irony…on the same day the above article was published at RT.com, Friday, January 5, 2018, the New York Times published an op-ed written by Daphne Merkin titled "Publicly, We Say #MeToo. Privately, We Have Misgivings." I was glad to see Ms. Merkin's smart and insightful piece in the rarified air of the Times op-ed page and highly recommend you read it. The main reason I enjoyed the piece so much probably had to do with the fact that I had, in essence, written the same thing numerous times over the last three months (LINK, LINK, LINK). It is always gratifying to be ahead of the curve…and to even predict the arc and direction of the curve (LINK, LINK). I will no doubt never get the imprimatur of the Times, an invitation to their  penthouse is unobtainable for a lowly Russian-media ghetto dweller like me. So I am left with no other alternative but to accept the fact that my lot in life is to be nothing more than the unacknowledged source material for the Times more interesting writers. There are worse fates.

©2017

#MeToo Wildfire Rages Out of Control (Updated Version)

 

Estimated Reading Time: 4minutes 54 seconds

As firefighters were struggling to contain the wildfires ravaging Southern California, the firestorm of the #MeToo movement burned out of control across America from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. with no end in sight.

This week wildfires fueled by the hot, dry, and at-times hurricane force Santa Ana winds, raged across numerous locations in Southern California. Ventura County, which is just north of Los Angeles, has been hit particularly hard as over 230,000 acres have been scorched with more than seven hundred homes destroyed thus far. Other serious wildfires also broke out in Bel-Air, Santa Clarita, Santa Barbara, Sylmar, Riverside and San Diego and devastated those areas as well.

There were times this week when portions of the Los Angeles resembled a scene out of Schindler's List with black, acrid smoke filling the air accompanied by white ash gently falling to the ground like snow. Air quality was so poor across the city that most schools and parks were closed for the week.

Synchronistically, just as this devastating wildfire was ravaging Los Angeles, another inferno that got its start in Hollywood was wreaking havoc across the country and in Washington D.C., in particular. The out of control wildfire of which I speak is the #MeToo sexual harassment panic that is torching everyone in its path and leaving in its wake a pile of ash where careers used to be.

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The #MeToo wildfire started back in October with the revelations of film producer Harvey Weinstein's decades long reign of sexual terror upon the movie industry. The explosion of rage at the diabolical behavior of Weinstein was gargantuan and only gained more intensity as a cavalcade of more women came forward. That blaze of anger quickly spread to other egregious sexual offenders in the movie business like director/producer Bret Ratner, director James Toback and actor Kevin Spacey who all felt the ferocious heat of the #MeToo fire. 

The magnitude of the anger directed at Weinstein was so intense that it sustained the #MeToo conflagration as it spread to other tertiary celebrities like actors Jeremy Piven, Dustin Hoffman and Jeffrey Tambor along with comedian Louis CK.

The #MeToo wildfire was not contained to just Hollywood, it spread to newsrooms as well. Today Show host Matt Lauer and CBS This Morning host Charlie Rose were two more well-known logs thrown onto #MeToo fire. They joined MSNBC contributor Mark Haplerin, New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush and NPR Senior VP of News Mike Oreskes, Chief News Editor David Sweeney and most recently New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza and PBS host Tavis Smiley as formerly respected newsman who have had their careers and reputations go up in smoke over sexual harassment allegations.

The #MeToo firestorm also spread to Washington where democratic Congressman from Michigan, John Conyers , Arizona republican, Trent Franks and democrat Senator Al Franken all resigned amidst sexual harassment allegations. Then this week Alabama Senate candidate, Roy Moore, lost his election after allegations surfaced that Moore had a predilection for teenage girls when he was in his thirties.

While many celebrate the success of the #MeToo bonfire at bringing down these high profile men who have used their power to assault or harass their victims, I am less enthused about the direction of the blaze. The problem with the #MeToo campaign is that it is not a controlled burn and is more akin to the wildfire of a sex panic or hysteria.

A “controlled burn” is when, in as controlled a manner as possible, the detritus on the forest floor is burned away in order to avoid a larger, uncontrollable conflagration at a later date. The righteous fury of the #MeToo wildfire means that it not only torches the sick and rotted trees but the healthy ones as well, and has no interest in making any differentiation between the two.

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An example of the uncontrollable nature of the #MeToo fire is that it refuses to make any distinction in severity between rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, groping or lewd and boorish behavior. For example, Al Franken (who as both a politician and a comedian I am not a fan of), is alleged to have "groped" or given unwanted kisses to four women and is lumped into the same category as Harvey Weinstein who is accused of raping and sexually assaulting over 80 women and has paid out millions to settle sexual harassment lawsuits. Another example is Emmy award winning actor Jeffrey Tambor, who denies allegations that he made lewd comments toward two transgender women working with him on his show Transparent, is placed in the same category as Kevin Spacey, who is alleged to have sexually assaulted or harassed dozens of young men, some as young as 14. 

As it is with all panics and hysterias, the #MeToo campaign has officially banished nuance from any discussion and embraced a draconian zero tolerance. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made that perfectly clear this week when in a speech calling for Al Franken to step down said,

"When we start having to talk about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, we are having the wrong conversation. We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay, none of it is acceptable."

The emotionalist raging wildfire of #MeToo also does not allow for any semblance of due process, and the burden of proof falls entirely on the accused and not on the accuser. For instance, Senator Franken, who denies the charges against him, asked for a Senate ethics investigation into the allegations in order to best unearth the truth, but in perfect democratic party circular firing squad, self-immolation style, Franken’s colleagues demanded he step down instead, due process and search for truth be damned.

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Another foundational belief of the #MeToo movement, which just won Time's Person of the Year Award, is to “Believe All Women”, the end result of which is that the word of every women is sanctified and proof is never a necessity. Just like the L.A. wildfires, the #MeToo sexual harassment hysteria is designed to be indifferent to guilt or innocence and is ultimately only meant to perpetuate its own existence and voracious appetite by blindly devouring anything or anyone that opposes it.

By creating this environment where alleged victims are deified and can never dare be doubted, #MeToo has all but guaranteed that allegations of a sexual nature will be weaponized by those who wish to destroy men whom they deem to be their personal, professional or political enemies, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the targeted men. Just this week Senator Chuck Schumer was lucky to avert an attack by weaponized sexual harassment allegations.

Gillibrand’s takedown of Franken is a perfect example of how #MeToo is a political weapon in what is starting to look like a gender war, where men are taken down by women and replaced by women. Like an arsonist torching a bankrupt business for the insurance money, Gillibrand put the fire to her potential democratic presidential hopeful rival Franken, in order to elevate her political profile and thin the field in the hopes of a presidential run in 2020. Her maneuver paid off as she is now hailed as the democrat’s bravest and best hope to topple Trump.

Despicable men in public life are being held to account for their depraved sexual behavior over the years, and that is a long time coming and they certainly deserve it, but in the vengeful, scorched-earth fury of the #MeToo movement, innocent men will have their names besmirched and their careers annihilated as well.

Some people will say, “who cares” if some innocent men are caught up in the #MeToo flames. That is an understandable feeling to have considering the history of men in positions of authority using their power for sexual means, but it is an ultimately self-defeating one.  The reality is that this current sex panic will end, sooner or later. No matter how hot it burns, no wildfire can last forever. And when this current #MeToo wildfire burns itself out and the fever is broken, there will be a terrible backlash against those who cynically misused it for their own purposes.

As intoxicating as it can be to get caught up in the whirlwind of righteous vengeance pulsating at the heart of the #MeToo, the shaming and punishment meted out in cases like Franken, Tambor and Smiley does not seem to fit the alleged crime.

It is deeply disconcerting that supporters of the #MeToo are so blinded by emotional fury that they are incapable of stepping back, letting their white hot emotions subside and allowing the cool waters of justice to flow.

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It would be a much wiser and more rational course of action for #MeToo to follow the wisdom of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who echoed Blackstone’s famous formula, when he said, “Better that 100 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

Considering that in the #MeToo panic, rational thought is in short supply and wild-eyed emotion rules the day, it is a near lock that Ben Franklin’s sage advice will be entirely ignored because it is emotionally unsatisfying in favor of torches and pitchforks. In fact, if Ben Franklin were alive today there is little doubt he would be labeled a #MeToo heretic by his enemies, or worse yet, tarred as a sexual predator himself, and tossed by the mob into the flames of the #MeToo bonfire to the raucous chant of “Burn Baby Burn”.

UPDATE: Matt Damon is in trouble today for saying pretty much the same thing I say in this article which caused the outrage machine to go into hyper-drive. Alyssa Milano also had a "fierce" diatribe against Damon as well. Ms. Milano is a survivor of sexual assault, so her emotional reaction to the subject is understandable, but as is always the case when emotions run high, logic is in short supply. The reaction to Damon's comments are proof that #MeToo is a panic, or maybe better described as a hysteria (which comes from the Greek word Hystera meaning "womb"), where not only does emotionalism reign but rational thought is chastised and despised. Panics/hysterias, like the Red Scare or the Salem Witch Trials, never look good in hindsight…at the end of the day, #MeToo will end up being viewed in the same way. 

UPDATE #2: Right on schedule…the #MeToo panic further jumps the shark with an op-ed from Kathy Lally in the Washington Post. In the article Ms. Lally proudly declares #MeToo!! The one problem though is that Ms. Lally was not raped, sexually assaulted or sexually harassed…no...her claim is that she was #MeToo'd by Matt Taibbi because he made her feel bad by making fun of her in his writing her twenty years ago. Seriously. He didn't even make fun of her in person. Good grief. The allure of #MeToo for women desperate to belong and who crave the identity and power of victimhood is apparently overwhelming, Ms. ally being proof of that. Ms. Lally's declaration is frankly offensive and should be taken as an affront to women who have actually been raped and sexually assaulted. Ms. Lally should be ashamed of herself.
 

A version of this article was originally published at RT.com.

©2017